One of the biggest challenges I have in raising a child with severe, Level 3 autism is finding enough time for my other children. Finding enough time for my husband.
Brandon’s needs are intense. When he is obsessing about something, it is all encompassing. It is the only thing he thinks about and the only thing he talks about. And it can go on for hours, even days. He doesn’t seem to care that someone else may want/need my attention.
When the tantrums and meltdowns happen, it is intense. With the angry jumping, we do our best to ensure nothing is broken and everyone is safe, especially Brandon.
A couple of weeks ago, during a tantrum, Brandon’s jumping knocked a glass bowl off the kitchen table. The bowl shattered and I then had to figure out how to clean it up without anyone stepping on the glass. And, of course, Brandon continued with the tantrum.
I yelled at everyone to stay out of the kitchen as I did my best to clean it all up. I did convince Brandon to jump outside for the time it took to clean.
When Brandon was younger, it was, honestly, a bit easier. Grandparents helped. All the grandparents now live out of state. Friends helped. That became harder as Brandon has gotten older. His behaviors are more intense and a bit more challenging as he is really, really strong.
So what about our other sons. How do we make time for them? Sometimes, it is just a ride to the quick shop for a snack without Brandon. Sometimes it is texting between rooms. Sometimes, it is waiting until Brandon goes to bed and then we can have longer conversations.
Steve and I have always tried our best to make time for all of our boys. Steve and Josh go fishing. Alex and I watch a movie. Josh and I talk about the tomato plants. Steve and Alex talk about music. We have attended school functions, but rarely together. One of us generally stays home with Brandon. I always wonder if we are doing enough.
It is hard for Steve and I to get out by ourselves very often. A trip to the grocery store together is considered a date. We usually travel with friends during the summer while Brandon is at camp. We don’t know yet if that is going to happen this summer. I am so hoping it does. We just have to wait and see.
The day my family started…almost 15 years ago.
Living with a person with autism affects the whole family, not just the individual and the parents. We have made mistakes. We have screwed up at times. Alex and Josh have gotten frustrated with Brandon’s needs. So have Steve and I. However, at the end of the day, we are all in this together and any of us would do anything for each other.
Stay well everyone!